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Chuletón a la Brasa: The Spanish Grilled Ribeye Steak

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Chuletón a la Brasa, or Grilled Ribeye Steak, is a beloved dish in Spain, particularly in the Basque Country, where grilling meats over open flames is an art form. This dish showcases the simplicity and depth of Spanish cuisine, highlighting the natural flavors of high-quality beef enhanced by the smokiness of the grill. Let’s dive into the origins, ingredients, and preparation of this quintessential Spanish recipe.

The Art of Spanish Grilling

Spain has a rich tradition of grilling meats, known as “asado” or “a la brasa,” where the emphasis is on using the best ingredients and cooking them over charcoal or wood to impart a distinct smoky flavor. In the Basque Country, grilling is taken very seriously, and chuletón, a thick-cut ribeye steak, is a prime example of this culinary dedication.

The key to a perfect Chuletón a la Brasa lies in the quality of the meat and the grilling technique. Traditionally, the meat is seasoned simply with coarse sea salt and cooked to perfection over high heat, allowing the natural flavors of the beef to shine through.

Ingredients for Chuletón a la Brasa

To prepare Chuletón a la Brasa, you will need the following ingredients:

  • For the Ribeye Steak:
    • 1 (1.2-1.5 kg) bone-in ribeye steak (approximately 2-3 inches thick)
    • Coarse sea salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • For Serving:
    • Grilled vegetables (such as asparagus, bell peppers, and tomatoes)
    • Fresh salad
    • Rustic bread
    • Red wine (preferably a robust Spanish red like Rioja or Ribera del Duero)

Instructions

Step 1: Preparing the Grill
  1. Light the Grill: Start by lighting your charcoal or wood grill. If using charcoal, let it burn until it is covered with a layer of white ash, which indicates that it is at the optimal grilling temperature. For a wood grill, wait until the flames have died down and the wood is producing a steady, hot bed of coals.
  2. Prepare the Grill Grate: Clean the grill grate thoroughly and oil it lightly to prevent the steak from sticking.
Step 2: Preparing the Steak
  1. Season the Steak: Remove the ribeye steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling. Season it generously with coarse sea salt on both sides. For added flavor, you can rub a small amount of extra virgin olive oil on the steak, but this is optional.
  2. Add Pepper: Just before grilling, add freshly ground black pepper to the steak.
Step 3: Grilling the Steak
  1. Place on Grill: Place the steak on the hottest part of the grill, directly over the coals. For a 2-3 inch thick steak, cook for about 5-7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Adjust the cooking time based on your desired level of doneness.
  2. Check for Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. For medium-rare, the temperature should be around 130-135°F (54-57°C). Remember that the steak will continue to cook slightly after being removed from the grill.
  3. Rest the Steak: Once cooked to your liking, remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and tender steak.
Step 4: Serving the Steak
  1. Slice and Serve: Slice the steak against the grain into thick slices. This ensures maximum tenderness.
  2. Accompaniments: Serve the chuletón with grilled vegetables, a fresh salad, and rustic bread. A robust Spanish red wine, such as Rioja or Ribera del Duero, pairs perfectly with the rich flavors of the steak.

Culinary Tips and Variations

  • Quality of Meat: The quality of the meat is paramount in this dish. Look for well-marbled, dry-aged ribeye for the best flavor and tenderness.
  • Seasoning: Simplicity is key. The coarse sea salt not only seasons the meat but also creates a delightful crust when grilled.
  • Grilling Technique: For a smoky flavor, consider using a combination of hardwoods like oak or hickory in your grill.

Nutritional Benefits

Chuletón a la Brasa, when enjoyed in moderation, can be part of a balanced diet. Ribeye steak is a good source of protein, iron, and essential vitamins such as B12. Grilling the steak, as opposed to frying, reduces the need for added fats, making it a healthier cooking method. Serving the steak with grilled vegetables and a fresh salad adds fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the meal.

Conclusion

Chuletón a la Brasa is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of Spanish culinary tradition. The simple preparation allows the natural flavors of the beef to stand out, enhanced by the smokiness of the grill. Whether you’re enjoying it at a family gathering or a festive occasion, this dish is sure to impress with its rich, robust flavors. Embrace the art of Spanish grilling with this classic recipe and savor the taste of Spain’s finest culinary traditions.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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